With approximately half of Torontonians having been born outside of Canada, it’s no surprise that the GTA has a 61 million dollar market for ethno-cultural vegetables among Chinese, South Asian, and Afro-Caribbean communities. That is understandable, because it is expected that new Canadians would want to have access to crops they enjoyed back home. Currently, most of these foods are imported, although some can grow in Canada. Some new Canadians have already clued in on this and have been growing these crops right here on Canadian soil! Others are showing great interest in growing these and more conventional crops. Like many Canadian farmers, new Canadians have chosen farming as a supplementary source of income.
A recent partnership between FarmStart and the Centre for Land and Water Stewardship, University of Guelph offers support to new and potential farmers through outreach, programs and services geared towards engaging new Canadians in agriculture. For example, new Canadian farmers were given start-up grants to help with starting their farming enterprises. FarmStart developed a fifty-acre incubator (research and training) farm in Brampton, where new farmers can begin to grow food for their communities. A mentorship program called FarmLINK allows information sharing between experienced farmers and new farmers looking for land.
Tamas Dombi, a farmer from Romania is among the many farmers who have benefited from one of FarmStart’s programs called “Exploring Your New Farm Dream course” which helped make his farming business quite successful. He rents 6 acres of land in the Holland Marsh area, where he started his own operation called Kind Organics. Although farming is not without its challenges, this example proves that with determination and patience new farmers can build successful businesses. It costed Dombi 6-8 months of challenges to get to this point, but his business is gradually expanding and thriving.
Doesn’t all this talk of farming make you want to grow your own food?
For more information about FarmStart and its programs and services and on Tamas Dombi’s story visit: